|This is the largest of the Otariidae or eared seals family.
Habitat: Northern Sea Lions are found on North-Pacific coasts; in Russia, Alaska, Japan, Canada and the USA in particular. They spend most of their time on rocky shores and in coastal water. During bad weather they stay under water. At Race Rocks , the peak in numbers of these mammals is in October to January , upwards of 400 may be reported at Race Rocks. They mix freely with the Californian Sea Lion which may number well over 1000 individuals between October and February.
See the references on Sea Lions in our RREO Index
Description: The Sea Lions at Race Rocks are mainly bachelor bulls or juvenile yearlings. Since this is not a breeding colony, mature females do not usually come here. There are clear differences between males and females. The males are larger in size and weigh more. Whereas the average sea lion male weighs 566 kg (1,245 pounds) the average female weights only 263 kg (579 pounds). Moreover, the average male has a body length of 288 cm (10 2/3 feet) while the average female has a body length of 228 cm (8 2/3 feet). Most females are yellowish or creamed color and most males are dark.
The average life span of a stellers sea lion is about 20 years for males and old females can even reach 30 years. The breeding season is between May-June and each mating produces a single pup.
Stellers sea lions are marine carnivores. They feed on wild fish (salmon, herring, rockfish, flounder, and Pollock) as well as on invertebrates such as squid and octopus. The Steller's sea lions feed at night, usually about 15-20 km. from shore. This relatively selective diet is one of the causes of the sea lions decreasing numbers since they compete with humans for this food.
An Eastern Alaskan population is now on the endangered species list due to severe declines in numbers over the past decade. They are now a threatened species included in the 'Red List' and protected in the USA and by the Commonwealth Independent States ( CIS).
Although they dive and spent s lot of time under water, Northern Sea Lions are also known for their sunbaths and are often watched catching sunlight on the rocky shores. Male Northern Sea Lions are generally aggressive and territorial.
The stellar sea lion: Two distinct stocks, Thomas Louglin, NMML